Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Edward MacDowell, by John F. Porte
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,
give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
www.gutenberg.net
Title: Edward MacDowell
Author: John F. Porte
Release Date: November 28, 2004 [eBook #14185]
Language: English
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EDWARD MACDOWELL***
E-text prepared by David Newman, Keith M. Eckrich, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
EDWARD MACDOWELL
A Great American Tone Poet, His Life and Music
by
JOHN F. PORTE
Author of Edward Elgar, Sir Charles V. Stanford, etc.
With a Portrait of Edward MacDowell and Musical Illustrations in the Text
New York: E.P. Dutton & Company 681 Fifth Avenue
1922
I do like the works of the American composer MacDowell! What a musician! He is sincere and personal—what a poet
—what exquisite harmonies!—Jules Massenet.
I consider MacDowell the ideally endowed composer.—Edvard Grieg.
[Illustration] FROM MACDOWELL'S COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LECTURES.
(Published as Critical and Historical Essays).
_For it is in the nature of the spiritual part of mankind to shrink from the earth, to aspire to something higher; a bird
soaring in the blue above us has something of the ethereal; we give wings to our angels. On the other hand, a serpent
impresses us as something sinister. Trees, with their strange ...

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Edward MacDowell,
by John F. Porte
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: Edward MacDowell
Author: John F. Porte
Release Date: November 28, 2004 [eBook #14185]
Language: English
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK EDWARD MACDOWELL***
E-text prepared by David Newman, Keith M.
Eckrich, and the Project Gutenberg Online
Distributed Proofreading Team
EDWARD MACDOWELLA Great American Tone Poet, His Life and Music
by
JOHN F. PORTE
Author of Edward Elgar, Sir Charles V. Stanford,
etc.
With a Portrait of Edward MacDowell and Musical
Illustrations in the Text
New York: E.P. Dutton & Company 681 Fifth
Avenue
1922
I do like the works of the American composer
MacDowell! What a musician! He is sincere and
personal—what a poet—what exquisite harmonies!
—Jules Massenet.
I consider MacDowell the ideally endowed
composer.—Edvard Grieg.
[Illustration]FROM MACDOWELL'S
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
LECTURES.
(Published as Critical and Historical Essays).
_For it is in the nature of the spiritual part of
mankind to shrink from the earth, to aspire to
something higher; a bird soaring in the blue above
us has something of the ethereal; we give wings to
our angels. On the other hand, a serpent
impresses us as something sinister. Trees, with
their strange fight against all the laws of gravity,
striving upward unceasingly, bring us something of
hope and faith; the sight of them cheers us. A land
without trees is depressing and gloomy.
In spite of the strange twistings of ultra modern
music, a simple melody still embodies the same
pathos for us that it did for our grandparents.
We put our guest, the poetic thought, that comes
to us like a homing bird from out the mystery of the
blue sky—we put this confiding stranger
straightway into that iron bed, the "sonata form," or
perhaps even the third rondo form, for we have
quite an assortment. Should the idea survive and
grow too large for the bed, and if we have learned
to love it too much to cut off its feet and thus make
it fit (as did that old robber of Attica), why we runthe risk of having some critic wise in his theoretical
knowledge, say, as was and is said of Chopin, "He
is weak in sonata form!"
In art our opinions must, in all cases, rest directly
on the thing under consideration and not on what is
written about it. Without a thorough knowledge of
music, including its history and development, and,
above all, musical "sympathy," individual criticism
is, of course, valueless; at the same time the
acquirement of this knowledge and sympathy is not
difficult, and I hope that we may yet have a public
in America that shall be capable of forming its own
ideas, and not be influenced by tradition, criticism,
or fashion.
Every person with even the very smallest love and
sympathy for art possesses ideas which are
valuable to that art. From the tiniest seeds
sometimes the greatest trees are grown. Why,
therefore, allow these tender germs of
individualism to be smothered by that flourishing,
arrogant bay tree of tradition—fashion, authority,
convention, etc.
No art form is so fleeting and so subject to the
dictates of fashion as opera. It has always been
the plaything of fashion, and suffers from its
changes.
Always respectable in his forms, no one else could
have made music popular among the cultured
classes as could Mendelssohn. This also had its
danger; for if Mendelssohn had written an opera(the lack of which was so bewailed by the
Philistines), it would have taken root all over
Germany, and put Wagner back many years.
Handel's great achievement (besides being a fine
composer) was to crush all life out of the then
promising school of English music, the foundation
of which had been so well laid by Purcell, Byrd,
Morley, etc._
(On Mozart). _His later symphonies and operas
show us the man at his best. His piano works and
early operas show the effect of the "virtuoso" style,
with all its empty concessions to technical display
and commonplace, ear-catching melody … He
possessed a certain simple charm of expression
which, in its directness, has an element of pathos
lacking in the comparatively jolly light-heartedness
of Haydn.
Music can invariably heighten the poignancy of
spoken words (which mean nothing in themselves),
but words can but rarely, in fact I doubt whether
they can ever, heighten the effect of musical
declamation.
To hear and enjoy music seems sufficient to many
persons, and an investigation as to the causes of
this enjoyment seems to them superfluous. And
yet, unless the public comes into closer touch with
the tone poet than the objective state which
accepts with the ears what is intended for the
spirit, which hears the sounds and is deaf to their
import, unless the public can separate the physicalpleasure of music from its ideal significance, our
art, in my opinion, cannot stand on a sound basis.
Music contains certain elements which affect the
nerves of the mind and body, and thus possesses
the power of direct appeal to the public—a power
to a great extent denied to the other arts. This
sensuous influence over the hearer is often
mistaken for the aim and end of all music…. In
declaring that the sensation of hearing music was
pleasant to him, and that to produce that sensation
was the entire mission of music, a certain English
Bishop placed our art on a level with good things to
eat and drink. Many colleges and universities of
America consider music as a kind of
boutonnière…. Low as it is, there is a possibility of
building on such an estimate. Could such persons
be made to recognize the existence of decidedly
unpleasant music, it would be the first step toward
a proper appreciation of the art and its various
phases.
In my opinion, Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the
world's mightiest tone poets, accomplished his
mission, not by means of the contrapuntal fashion
of his age, but in spite of it. The laws of canon and
fugue are based upon as prosaic a foundation as
those of the rondo and sonata form; I find it
impossible to imagine their ever having been a
spur or an incentive to poetic musical speech.
Overwhelmed by the new-found powers of
suggestion in tonal tint and the riot of hitherto
undreamed of orchestral combinations, we areforgetting that permanence in music depends upon
melodic speech._PREFACE
Owing to the high cost of book production at the
present time, the use of illustrations, both musical
and photographic, has been restricted in this book.
It was decided only to fully illustrate the analysis of
MacDowell's "Indian" Suite for Orchestra, Op. 48,
this being a work less accessible to the general
reader than the composer's well known pianoforte
pieces.
The author gratefully acknowledges the help of:—
Mrs. MacDowell—Information and gift of
MacDowell portraits, an original letter and a piece
of MS. of the composer.
Mr. W.W.A. Elkin—Information and loan of scores.
Mr. Charlton Keith—Loan of D minor Pianoforte
Concerto.
Messrs. J. and W. Chester, Ltd.—Information.